Re-evaluating And Grading The Cardinals 2014 Draft Picks Part 2
Aug 31, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Troy Niklas (85) breaks away to score a touchdown against the Temple Owls at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Cardinals second round draft pick Troy Niklas is next to go under the re- evaluating and grading scope, and after watching every game of this kid on video he looks more and more the part of a true NFL tight end.
Niklas comes into the league with a slight advantage playing the tight end position, that being he was highly recruited out of high school as an outside linebacker and was converted to the tight end position going to Notre dame.
He has only played the tight end position two years, but being an outside linebacker he developed a knack for contact and physical play, and brings that nasty defensive mentality to the offensive side of the ball.
Several games show Niklas catching passes and immediately looking for contact, not to shy away from it but looking to lay the wood on anyone that tries to tackle him.
He is not the fastest tight end and won’t run away from anyone but has the power and physical ability to drag a few tackles for extra yards, which was seen numerous times in games the last two seasons.
Niklas has soft hands and doesn’t fight the ball while catching and on video has shown the ability to make the spectacular one hand; reach up in the sky and pull it down catch with defenders draped all over him.
So what does this mean for the Cardinals going forward, and can Niklas be a first year impact player? and the answer is a resounding yes!.
With run blocking and pass blocking his main strengths and his big 6’6 270 pound frame Niklas will be a monster blocking tight end almost immediately.
In todays NFL the tight end is becoming more utilized in the passing and run blocking, the Cardinals will have the options of bringing in more protection for Carson Palmer or opening outside running lanes for the ball carrier, which will make their offense so versatile it can attack against any defense it faces.
This is another good solid pick at number 52 overall,the only concern is, can this kid out play the other tight ends on the roster in Rob Housler and fellow Notre Dame alumni newly acquired John Carlson.
It is clear that the Cardinals made this move at number two because of the lack of production and the non-emergence of Housler, whom was suppose to be the teams dynamic tight end savior the last two seasons.
But the new regime cannot be penalized for mistakes of the previous one, making the grade for this pick a “B -” simply because there were two top rated pass rushers also on the board at the time, which was a greater need to get the best player, but if they passed on Niklas at tight end they would have had to trust the unreliable Housler for another season.